Local dispatchers mark special week

NEW CUMBERLAND – When experiencing an emergency, you want to know there’s a person available to lend a hand.

That’s part of the message the staff of the Hancock County 911 Center have been conveying over the last few days as part of National Telecommunicators Week.

“No matter what time, no matter the situation, someone is going to be here,” 911 Director Tracy Lemley said, noting people don’t care who is answering the phone during an emergency, only that there is someone available to answer their call. “It’s their voices that are important.”

According to Lemley, the Hancock County 911 Center has 12 full-time employees, and five part-time staffers, working 12-hour shifts and taking calls for fire and police departments and ambulance squads in the city of Weirton and Hancock County.

“We answer over 100,000 calls a year,” Lemley said.

The center usually has three dispatchers working each shift, she said, noting some of the dispatchers also are volunteer firefighters, providing additional insight into the needs of those they are sending out on a call.

Lemley also noted each dispatcher is required to go through several layers of training and certification each year.

“It’s a very specialized job,” Lemley said.

National Telecommunicators Week is designated as a time for citizens to thank those who respond to emergency calls and dispatch emergency responders during times of crisis.